Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the“ Rebel Queen” , is struggling with climate change

Tastings of the 2023 and 2022 vintages, in spite of adverse climatic events, offered high quality and in some cases, excellence

Vernaccia di San Gimignano stands out as the “white queen” in the territory of Tuscany and its “excellent reds”. Vernaccia has also been heavily impacted by climate change, which has become more and more evident even in the vineyards growing at the foot of the famous medieval towers that have made the Tuscan town one of the top destinations for tourists and wine tourists. There are 768 hectares of surface area in San Gimignano dedicated to Vernaccia, a potential production equal to 6.912.000 kilos of grapes, and wine production is equivalent to 4.838.400 liters (data source: Consorzio Vernaccia di San Gimignano). Yields, though, have been on an increasing downslope over the last decade, partly due to improvements carried out on the quality of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, but also, and primarily, induced by climate change and its extreme climatic events. The result, for instance, of the drought on the 2022 harvest resulted in 5.259.985 kilos of grapes producing 3.681.989 liters of wine. The drop in production of the 2023 harvest (due to downy mildew returning, excess rainfall from April to June, and maximum temperatures between 35 and 40°C in July and August), was even more evident, as production was 3.245.330 kilos of grapes, equal to 2.271.731 liters of wine; that is, -37.742% compared to the previous year’s production.
As far as quantity is concerned, the picture is fairly dismal, which is mainly because the changing climate in the rest of Tuscany and all over Italy is unfortunately becoming a constant, and therefore, no longer a variable. Nevertheless, the only white DOCG wine in Tuscany has done very well quality wise, offering a widespread high quality level, including some definitely very interesting wines of Vernaccia 2023 and Vernaccia Selezione/Riserva 2022. For instance, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2023 by La Lastra, is a true white that has an excellent saline element, while its strong point is its easy and tasty mouthfeel, summed up by soft aromas of flowers, earth and aromatic herbs. Vernaccia Hydra 2023 by Il Palagione has a definitely explosive mouthfeel, all flavor and fragrance, accompanied by aromas of flint and light fruity tones. Fattoria di Fugnano’s Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2023 is well made, and has floral aromatic tones as well as a pleasantly savory, continuous taste. Tenuta Le Calcinaie’s Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2023 is all about pleasant olfactory and gustatory sweetness. Vernaccia di San Gimignano Isola Bianca 2023 by Teruzzi presented a modern style with its aromatic tones of exotic fruit and a sweet and ample taste. Cesani’s Vernaccia di San Gimignano Clanis 2022 has generally excellent sensations, well-profiled aromas and a contrasting mouthfeel. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano Tollena 2022 by Tollena is well made, has floral and chalky aromas and a savory and rhythmic taste. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano La Ginestra Riserva 2022 from Signano is well made, has aromatic notes of chamomile and nutmeg, and a tonic acid verve mouthfeel. The Vernaccia Riserva 2021 is excellent, coming out after an extra year of aging. Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara’s L’Albereta is definitely an excellent wine and highlights aromatic purity and a clear, quick and deep gustatory progression. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano Assola Riserva 2021 by Terre di Sovernaja is also a great success, with its chalky and earthy aromatic traits as well as a savory and lively taste.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano presented its new vintages under the umbrella of the ad hoc event “Regina Ribelle”. Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Festival”, organized by the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Consortium, in partnership with the Municipality of “New York in the Middle Ages”. This was the second edition of the new format (May 16th -19th), and is now the leading event for Vernaccia. The objective is to describe the Denomination and its entire territory in depth. The aim of the Consortium in choosing late spring as the date to showcase the Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines that will be going on the market, is to present the wines in a period in which they are at the top of their potential. The event also aims to present the territory in the most complete way possible, through tasting stands in the city as well as events, exhibitions, music and conferences, to emphasize the link between the territory and the wine to the wine lovers and tourists who visit San Gimignano ( 3 million a year). The event was hosted in the historic buildings of one of the “borghi più belli d’Italia” (the most beautiful Italian villages), which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 , and it is famously called, around the world, the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” because of its 65 medieval towers. Over the centuries, the town has safeguarded a viticulture famously celebrated since the Middle Ages by the greatest Italian artists and poets. Vernaccia wine was always on the tables of Popes and Kings, and is the only wine to be mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy, in the Canto XXIV of Purgatory. Master Vasari painted it in the frescoes of the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, upon request of Duke Cosimo I of the Florentine family Medici, and it was mentioned in works written by authors of the caliber of Cecco Angiolieri, Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer and Francis Scott.
The wine and the vine are so profoundly linked to the territory that in 1966 Vernaccia earned the first Italian Controlled Designation of Origin, while it received Guaranteed in 1993. It is a small denomination with a centuries old history protected by a Consortium founded in 1972, which counts 79 members (of 170 producers total), working on 2.000 hectares of vineyard, between 70 and 500 meters above sea level, Pliocene origin soil, comprised of yellow sands and medium-textured sandy clays, and divided into just over 750 hectares producing Vernaccia di San Gimignano. 450 hectares produce San Gimignano DOC in the different types of Rosé, Red, Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice and 800 hectares produce Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi and Toscana IGT.

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